Sir Alex, Old Big ’Ead and the Godfather
As a major football fan and having mentioned the late, great Brian Clough in last week’s Bullitt points, it got me thinking about who was the best British manager of my generation, and who was the best ever.
No doubt seriously upsetting my Scouse brethren, the few who can actually read that is (sorry, I’m a Manc and just couldn’t help myself), Bob Paisley and Shankly fail to make the cut. They did great things, but not truly exceptional stuff and because of the bootroom ethos, while brilliant for the Club, it meant that any personal achievements were equally distributed over a number of great managers over many years.
For me, the best British manager of my generation is a tie between two true greats, namely Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian
Clough. Sir Alex, because of what he achieved initially at Aberdeen, and which I
doubt will ever be repeated in Scotland. (Although, in fairness, Diego Simone at
Atletico Madrid is achieving something comparable in Spain.) Then his move to
Manchester and what he did at United over so many years was quite exceptional.
Brian Clough, on the other hand, deserves
joint spot because, not once but twice, he achieved incredible success
at two clubs that were, prior to his arrival, incredibly low profile, Derby and then
The Forest spell was especially remarkable
given that he did this not just after promotion, but while a truly great
Liverpool were in the ascendancy. (Just as an aside, I still can’t forget being
at Old Trafford and watching my team getting completely and utterly annihilated
4-0 by them. By far and away the best performance I have seen from any visiting
So the greatest ever (OK, I’m a Red so I’m a
bit biased) has to be the late, great Sir Matt Busby. To build not one
but two sides that were capable of challenging the best in Europe, plus go
through what he did and ultimately win a European cup – True, True Genius.
He not only created a blueprint for how
United should be and play, he also laid the foundations that made the Club ultimately
one of the biggest in the world. Not via a sugar daddy, but via a bloody-minded
determination to ensure that the people who supported United would and had to be
entertained, because they paid their hard-earned money to watch and they deserved
it. A legend.